Ben Meyer

Special Topics Correspondent

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Ben took the newly-created position of Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR in September of 2019. For a year, he focused on reporting on water and water resource issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.

Starting in September 2020, Ben’s reporting focus has been on the new landscape of living, working, and playing in the Northwoods, a place mostly devoid of giant employers, but a home to many entrepreneurs, small businesses, and people working from home. The series is called Employed.

In addition to special topics reporting, Ben often contributes to daily news reporting and hosting on WXPR.

Prior to joining the WXPR team, Ben spent more than seven years serving in several roles at WJFW-TV in Rhinelander.

Originally from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, Ben is a graduate of UW-Madison. He lives in Rhinelander with his wife, Erika.  Outside of work, Ben is currently pursuing a law degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in the Twin Cities. He’s is an avid Brewers and Badgers fan, and enjoys doing outdoor projects, running, and competing in triathlons.  Ben is also a WIAA basketball official and calls play-by-play for Rhinelander Hodags sports.

In Friday's WXPR midday news:

  • What to do with all those plastic grocery bags? A Rhinelander project has a recycling solution.
  • Contractor tax fraud in Wisconsin may be more severe than you might expect.
  • Eagle River now has an ordinance regulating shipping containers.
  • Wisconsin's unemployment rate remains far below that of the rest of the country.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

In just two weeks, a program in Rhinelander has collected more than 350 pounds of plastic bags for recycling.

Those bags will be transformed into a composite bench in the city.

Emily Popp, who works at Mel’s Trading Post in Rhinelander, is organizing a five-month project to collect people’s bags for recycling through a program called Trex.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Tuesday afternoon, Matt Ellingson walked out of the Kwik Trip on Rhinelander’s east side with a few bottles of water and a snack from the store’s roller grill.

Yet again, he’s intentionally bypassed a restaurant or fast food joint to get something to eat at Kwik Trip.

“That’s exactly what I did today,” he said with a laugh. “I got a Tornado.”

Ellingson feels he knows what to expect at every Kwik Trip location.

“They’ve got good food, good prices, and the people are very friendly,” he said.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Realtor Lisa Alsteen shows off the features of a century-old four-bedroom house near the courthouse in Rhinelander.

Painted blue on the outside, it has wood floors, a sunny living room, and an inviting porch in front.

Alsteen listed the home, located at 133 North Oneida Avenue, on Monday.

By midday Tuesday, several potential buyers had already been though for showings. She expected an offer wouldn’t take long.

That’s typical these days.

Last spring, the demand for Northwoods homes shot skyward, like nothing Alsteen has seen in her 18 years in realty.

PIXABAY.COM

Voters in Lincoln and Oneida County were not in support of raising taxes to pay for road maintenance and other projects in Tuesday's election.

Oneida County had two road funding referendum questions on the ballot.

One called for $500,000 tax increase. The other was an advisory question asking if the county should cut costs elsewhere to pay for road maintenance. Only 46% of voters supported the first question, with the second getting just 41% of support.

PIXABAY.COM

It was a mixed response from Northwoods voters on whether approve tax levy increases to help fund schools.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Wisconsin voters are selecting a new State Superintendent of Public Instruction and choosing candidates in many local elections across the Northwoods, including town boards, school boards, and referenda. WXPR is your source for election results and information. See below for the updated numbers in the races getting the most attention, and click the links to see the results for contested races in your community.

WAOW

After the pandemic began, the Vilas County Jail was noticeably emptier than usual.

The court system was setting more signature bonds for accused criminals, bypassing cash bonds that might have forced people to sit in jail.

The sheriff’s office was trying new methods to keep people out of jail, too.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

This month, construction work will ramp up in Boulder Junction.

It’s a tangible step toward providing fiberoptic broadband service to hundreds of homes and businesses in the town.

But that’s not the only good new broadband advocates in Boulder Junction got recently.

Fifty-eight broadband expansion projects across the state were awarded grant funding by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Forest County Sheriff's Office

Police seized drugs with a street value of $90,000 and arrested a Milwaukee man in a Crandon hotel on Thursday afternoon.

Lagene McGhee, 48, was found with about two pounds of crack and powder cocaine, some marijuana products, a digital scale, more than $4,500 in cash, and a loaded gun.

Crandon Police were dispatched to the hotel after someone reported a strong smell of marijuana. Police officers, Forest County sheriff’s deputies, and FBI agents later entered McGhee’s hotel room on a search warrant, where they found the drugs, cash, and gun.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Population projections show our area is rapidly aging.

In 20 years, about a third of the population in the Northwoods will be age 65 or older.

That promises to put even more strain on employers seeking people to fill jobs, and many of those employers are already struggling to find enough workers.

But despite those trends, a new program in the School District of Rhinelander might help fill the gap for employers and their future workers.

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